Pets and snowstorms

Pets should be kept indoors during major snowstorms such as Nemo, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).  However, many do have to go out for a brief time — dog owners also should remove snow from a canine’s feet after he or she might spend limited time outdoors in the snow.

“The most important thing pet owners should do is to bring their pets indoors,” said Dr. Dick Green, disaster response director for the ASPCA field investigations and response team. “If conditions are unsafe for humans, they are also unsafe for pets.”

With the arrival of winter storm Nemo, ASPCA officials remind pet owners they should develop an emergency plan that accounts for the safety of their animals and to stay up-to-date on storm warnings in their area.

Specific tips to follow

The following tips will help pet owners prepare for winter storms:

—Always bring pets indoors at the first sign or warning of a storm or disaster.

—Don’t let your dog off the leash after heavy snowfall. Dogs can lose their scent during winter storms and easily become lost.

—Keep a pet emergency kit and supplies handy with items such as medical records, water, pet food and medications, and pet first-aid supplies

—Make sure all pets wear collars and tags with up-to-date identification. The ASPCA recommends micro-chipping your pet as a more permanent form of identification.

—Arrange a safe haven for your pets in the event of evacuation. Do not leave your pets behind.

—Clean off your dog’s paws with a moist washcloth after going outside. Snow-melting salt can be very painful to dogs’ feet and can make them ill when ingested.

Helping out after disasters

The ASPCA field investigations and response team frequently responds to natural disasters, including major events such as Hurricane Sandy in 2012, the Joplin, Mo. tornado in 2011, Hurricanes Gustav and Ike in 2008, and Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005. The team also has been called upon by state and municipal governments and other animal welfare partners to lend expertise during large-scale animal rescue operations.

For more information on disaster preparedness and cold weather pet safety tips from the ASPCA, go to